Kolkata: The Bengal Government has for the first time taken up an initiative for pomegranate cultivation in the Paschimanchal region. The Paschimanchal Unnayan Affairs Department has set up model pomegranate orchards in the districts of Purulia, Bankura and Jhargram.
The government is conducting the cultivation project in collaboration with the National Research Centre on Pomegranate. In the last two years, 20,000 pomegranate saplings have been planted in Purulia and Bankura districts. As many as 50,000 saplings will be planted in the coming year. The wages of the unskilled labourers are being paid through the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme.
At least 2,100 metric tonnes of the fruits is expected to be cultivated per year, which would translate to Rs 21 crore per year – a substantial amount for the poor families involved in the cultivation.
Pomegranate needs low rainfall and so areas in the Paschimanchal region are ideal for the cultivation of the fruit. Pomegranate also has a long shelf-life; thus, the fruit can get time for marketing worldwide.
In this connection, it is worth mentioning that India is the largest producer of pomegranate, and it is expected that in the coming years, Bengal would become a major contributor to the export.